, NAIROBI, Kenya, Feb 25 – The third edition of the Intellecap’s Sankalp Africa Summit has officially kicked off in Nairobi hosting over 800 delegates from 25 plus countries.
Themed ‘spurring the entrepreneurship economy’, the summit has brought together entrepreneurs and leaders with the intent of enabling more regional collaboration and dialogue.
According to Intellecap’s CEO Nisha Dutt, the summit will not only offer investment opportunities for interested investors, but it will also create space for networking among the attendees.
At the same time, thirteen entrepreneurs will showcase their business ideas with the top three securing funding from interested investors from the Sankalp Africa Awards Program.
“Africa has always had a leadership position in ICT and Technology, but increasingly activity by Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) in sectors like healthcare, clean energy, agriculture and financial services is booming. This was the key driver behind expanding the Sankalp Forum to Africa,” Dutt said.
Explaining the Program’s interest on the sectors, Dutt says that investors are especially interested in putting money into financial inclusion projects because of past successes in the sector such as Mpesa.
So far, Sankalp has recognized 20 enterprises in Africa in the last two years, supported 500 such businesses and channeled investments worth Sh101 billion.
Having worked hand in hand with entrepreneurs from different places, Dutt admits that the challenges faced by entrepreneurs in Africa are quite different from those faced by entrepreneurs from elsewhere.
“The maturity of ideas coming from the continent is however considerably low. This is usually a frequent problem whereby interested investors have a low appetite for risk, making it difficult to put their money into projects,” she explained.
She therefore advices startups to ensure their ideas well thought out and backed by plans that show the business’s viability.
“Build a prototype, make it work on ground and if it is working, someone will follow you with money, because this is what investors are looking for,” she explained.
Dutt further says that Intellecap is working hand in hand with entrepreneurs and with investors to bridge the gap. By doing so, they are working with investors to increase their appetite for risk and are couching entrepreneurs on what investors are looking for so that they do not end up missing funding.
She also advices startups to always validate their idea, saying that this will allow investors see the project beyond the paper and onto the ground.
“Also, cater to the needs in the market. Look for a gap and fill that. Additionally, commit time. Great companies become successful as a result of a lot of time having been invested.”
The two day event will be followed by the Sankalp Global Summit to be held in India in April this year.